(NY Times Op-Ed) Andreas Harsono—Indonesia Is No Model for Muslim Democracy

Posted by Kendall Harmon

It is fashionable these days for Western leaders to praise Indonesia as a model Muslim democracy. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has declared, “If you want to know whether Islam, democracy, modernity and women’s rights can coexist, go to Indonesia.” And last month Britain’s prime minister, David Cameron, lauded Indonesia for showing that “religion and democracy need not be in conflict.”

Tell that to Asia Lumbantoruan, a Christian elder whose congregation outside Jakarta has recently had two of its partially built churches burned down by Islamist militants. He was stabbed by these extremists while defending a third site from attack in September 2010.

This week in Geneva, the United Nations is reviewing Indonesia’s human rights record. It should call on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to crack down on extremists and protect minorities. While Indonesia has made great strides in consolidating a stable, democratic government after five decades of authoritarian rule, the country is by no means a bastion of tolerance.

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Filed under: * Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesReligion & Culture* Economics, PoliticsPolitics in General* International News & CommentaryAsiaIndonesia* Religion News & CommentaryInter-Faith RelationsOther FaithsIslamMuslim-Christian relations

1 Comments
Posted May 23, 2012 at 4:40 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Mark Baddeley wrote:

I think the analysis is good, but I think the opening is a little unfair - neither Clinton’s or Cameron’s quotes are necessarily holding out Indonesia as a model democracy, merely that it is basically functioning as one and certainly much more so than Islamic countries in the Middle East. There’s enough people who explain their support of Israel as support of a country, while not a model of democracy in every respect, is basically in the right ballpark in a tough situation, and certainly so compared to the Islamic countries in the Middle East that I think the argument should be able to apply elsewhere.

While I don’t think we can draw an equivalence between Indonesia and Israel, I think the same principle should apply - one can point to Indonesia as basically in the right ballpark without seeing it as a model democracy. That can be contested, but I’m not sure that he’s given the evidence for that in this article. He’s demonstrated that life is harder as a religious or ethnic minority, not that Indonesia demonstrates that religion and democracy are incompatible (Cameron’s claim) or that at least some basic rights are possible in a Muslim country (Clinton’s).

May 23, 6:23 am | [comment link]
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